Last Update April 9, 2012
For Stories on Sam Smith
Disclaimers and General Advice
In your contacts with editors, don't mention this website. It won't help. And, in your articles and stories, don't cite this website or try to make it the story. Sam Smith is the story. (Movies and TV are a different matter. If you sell anything for TV or a movie, you owe
me and my wife a crabcake apiece, plus a pitcher of lemonade.) The list of potential markets below is far from complete and none of them are guaranteed to be receptive.
Students! Do you need to write a paper, say for History, Economics, ROTC or English?
It is possible to get a term paper published. I did it. My teacher was impressed, and so were others who heard that I had published some original research. And where are you likely to find a more interesting subject than Sam Smith?
- Focus your topic tightly. Don't attempt a complete biography in a few thousand words.
- As soon as you get the assignment, identify an editor who might be interested, using the suggestions above and a recent edition of Writer's Market, which you can find in libraries and bookstores. If you can't borrow it, you may be able to purchase last year's edition inexpensively from Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller.
- Write a regular query letter, as described in the article in the front part of Writer's Market. Don't say you're a student, at least not until you're asked. Do say (truthfully) you've "done some research."
- Don't wait for a response to continue your research.
- Don't expect to get paid anything for your first article, certainly not very much. The point is to get something published that you have to write anyway. After you give away a few more articles for fun, skill and visibility, you'll be in a better position to ask for payment. Walter Webb, the revered historian of the American West, described how "for the first time an editor paid me the compliment of writing a check in my favor. This was a landmark, the beginning of a long and happy relationship between me and editors." Eventually, Webb sold his master's thesis to Paramount and they produced a movie from it. His advice is worth considering.
- Be very, very careful to cite everything that should be cited and put quotes around everything that you lift verbatim. Profit from the experience of people old enough to know better (like Stephen Ambrose, according to the January 5, 2002 issue of the N.Y. Times) who have had trouble with this.
- Of course, your grammar and spelling will be flawless.
- Deliver your manuscript on time, on topic and at the length agreed.
Suggestions for the conductor of this Website?